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The 5 Best Air Purifiers, According to Our Testing

Out of the 38 air purifiers we tested, the Levoit Core 400S Air Purifier is our favorite because it is effective at removing a variety of pollutants from the air.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Clean indoor air can be hard to come by, as pollutants such as smoke, mold, bacteria, pollen, and toxins all battle to infiltrate the air we breathe. Air filtration has become more relevant than ever, and an air purifier is one of the easiest and most effective ways to bring the fresh air back into your home

We put 38 of the best air purifiers through a series of tests in our Lab, assessing them based on their design, noise levels, features, effectiveness, and overall value. For expert tips on buying and using air purifiers we spoke with Kenneth Mendez, CEO and president of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and Dr. John McKeon, CEO of Allergy Standards. 

"People spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors, and indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air," says Mendez. "Indoor air is made up of tiny particles—including animal dander, pollen, mold, dust mites, and fumes released by cooking, burning fuel, or cleaning products—that can trigger asthma and allergies. Air purifiers can improve your home's indoor air quality by reducing indoor air pollution or removing airborne allergens." 

Our top pick is the Levoit Core 400S Air Purifier because it is extremely effective at filtering both particulate matter (PM) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), or harmful chemicals that can be emitted from a variety of household products. Plus, it's Wi-Fi enabled and moderately priced in comparison to other smart air purifiers. 

Keep scrolling for more of our top air purifier picks, and find expert tips for buying air purifiers and improving your indoor air quality

Our Top Picks

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Best Overall Air Purifier: Levoit Core 400S Air Purifier

View at Amazon ($220)

Who it's for: People who want a quiet air purifier for mid- to large-sized rooms. 

Who it isn't for: People who don't want to spend very much on replacement filters. 

 In our testing, this air purifier was one of the most effective at filtering both particulate matter (PM), including smoke and pet hair, as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), specifically those emitted from mothballs. The Levoit Core 400S achieves these results with the help of three different filters: an activated carbon filter for absorbing VOCs and odors, a HEPA filter for allergens and other air pollutants, and a preliminary filter for large debris such as dust, lint, hair, pet fur, and more. 

The unit itself comes fully assembled and is designed for use in a space up to 400 square feet, with the help of its 360-degree air intake. It's lightweight enough to carry from room to room and comes equipped with handles on either side for easy transport. We were particularly impressed with its quiet operation—the decibel level in the room didn't increase at all on the sleep and quiet modes. 

In addition to its impressive performance, this air purifier boasts a number of advanced features, including Wi-Fi compatibility, so you can control it from an app or smart home device, such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa—all of which our testers found easy to use with the air purifier. The easy-to-read digital display gives you a real-time reading of your air quality and automatically adjusts your fan speed to match. This model is available in white and black, both with the sleek, cylindrical design that can be placed on the floor or on a table. Our one complaint is the price of the corresponding HEPA replacement filters—they run for about $50 each. But considering their performance in our testing, it may be worth the splurge for cleaner indoor air. 

Product Details: 

  • Dimensions: 10.8 x 10.8 x 20.5 in
  • Weight: 14.1 pounds
  • Room Size: 403 square feet 
  • CADR: 260 CFM
  • Certifications: Energy Star

RELATED: The 5 Best Cordless Vacuums, According to Our Tests

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Best Budget Air Purifier: Toppin Comfy Air C2 Air Purifier

View at Amazon ($80)

Who it's for: People who want a lightweight air purifier that is easy to move.
Who it isn't for: People who want a Wi-Fi-enabled air purifier.  

This affordable air purifier doesn't have all the bells and whistles of more expensive models—including an app or smart device-compatibility—but it does feature clear and intuitive controls, as well as an impressive ability to remove air pollutants. In our Lab tests, it reduced the PM level significantly on its highest setting in just five minutes. Like our best overall pick, this air purifier comes with 360-degree air intake and three layers of filtration: a nylon prefilter, an activated carbon filter, and a HEPA filter. 

The lightweight and compact construction of this air purifier makes it easy to move from room to room and store neatly on a nightstand or table. Plus, the low price point of both the air purifier and the replacement HEPA filters makes purchasing multiple more doable, a definite plus if you're wanting to equip more than one room with an air purifier. And the sleek, modern appearance will fit in seamlessly with any existing decor. The touchscreen control panel features a two-hour, four-hour, and eight-hour timer, three fan speeds, and the ability to turn off the LED display for undisturbed sleep. Given its size, we wish it were a bit quieter, particularly on the highest settings, so we'd recommend keeping it set to low at night. 

Product Details: 

  • Dimensions: 7.6 x 7.6 x 14.8 inches
  • Weight: 4.5 pounds
  • Room Size: 215 square feet
  • CADR: 100 CFM
  • Certifications: N/A
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Best Air Purifier for Allergies: Bissell air400 Air Purifier

View at Amazon ($360)

Also available at Walmart, Best Buy, and Target

Who it's for: People whose primary concern is airborne particles such as mold, pollen, or dust.
Who it isn't for: People who want an air purifier that can be discreetly tucked away. 

This highly effective air purifier was able to clear particles in the air in just five minutes—even on the lowest setting—making it particularly well suited for those who suffer from allergies or asthma. It comes equipped with a prefilter to trap large particles, a HEPA filter to trap small particles, and a large activated carbon filter for absorbing odors. There are five different fan speeds, including an auto mode that reads the air quality in your home and circulates the air accordingly (and we found these readings to align with our own air quality measurements). Not only does this function allow you to set your air purifier and forget about it, but it also lets you see your air quality improve in real time. 

In terms of noise, our testers say the quiet mode is nearly undetectable, while the highest mode may be difficult to have a conversation over. Additional features include a timer with one-, four-, and eight-hour settings, a filter change indicator light for all three filters, and a night mode that dims the control panel lights.

It is important to note that this air purifier is not Wi-Fi enabled, but the large digital display is easy to read and understand. Due to the size of this air purifier, it may not go easily from room to room and it's hard to tuck it away without being noticed, so it is likely better suited for large spaces. 

Product Details: 

  • Dimensions: 16.13 x 9.75 x 24 inches
  • Weight: 22.8 pounds
  • Room Size: 486 square feet 
  • CADR: 353 CFM for pollen, 319 CFM for dust, and 313 CFM for smoke
  • Certifications: Energy Star

RELATED: The 5 Best Humidifiers, According to Our Lab Tests

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Best Air Purifier for Pets: RabbitAir MinusA2 Ultra Quiet Air Purifier

View at Amazon ($600)

Who it's for: People with pets or people with limited floor space. 

Who it isn't for: People who aren't in a position to spend a lot on an air purifier.

This sleek and slim air purifier packs a powerful punch without taking up excess room. In fact, it can be mounted to the wall to save precious floor space (a wall mount kit is included). We found it to purify the air very quickly and effectively, ridding it of both smoke and pet hair. This is in part due to the fact that it comes with a whopping six filters: a prefilter for large debris, a medium filter for mid-size particles, a HEPA filter for small particles, a customized filter of your choosing (choose between Germ Defense, Pet Allergy, Odor Remove, or Toxin Absorber), an activated charcoal filter for absorbing odors, and a negative ion generator, which produces tiny molecules that latch onto airborne particles and either trap them in the filters or land them on the floor where they can be vacuumed. 

On the silent mode, the noise was barely noticeable, and although it was louder on the highest mode, it was not so loud that you couldn't have a conversation or watch TV. The air quality indicator monitors the current air quality, and when set to auto mode, adjusts the fan speed accordingly. And for a better night's rest, the light sensor automatically dims the display panel when the room darkens. 

The MinusA2 comes in both non-Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi-enabled versions. The latter can easily connect to an app so you can control it from anywhere, and testers found it to be very intuitive. All versions come with a remote control and user-friendly display. 

Product Details: 

  • Dimensions: 21.4 x 7 x 20 inches
  • Weight: 19.4 pounds
  • Room Size: 815 square feet 
  • CADR: 200 CFM for pollen, 193 CFM for dust, 180 CFM for smoke
  • Certifications: Energy Star, Asthma & Allergy Friendly 
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Best Air Purifier for Smoke: Dyson Purifier Cool Purifying Fan TP07

View at Amazon ($600)

Also available at Target and Walmart

Who it's for: People who want an air purifier that doubles as a fan.
Who it isn't for: People who want a basic, no frills air purifier. 

You can count on Dyson to design an effective product with a sleek design and small footprint. This air purifier stands almost four feet tall, but is otherwise small and could be easily tucked out of sight (just avoid putting it in too tight of a space because this can block air intake). Our testers were wowed with the ability of this purifier to clear the air of smoke in little time using HEPA and activated carbon filters: "I am amazed that it could clear the smoke from the air so quickly," says one tester. "The ending air quality numbers inside the tent were lower than the air quality in the larger room, so I know it was working well."

This air purifier stands out for its unique two-in-one design: Choose between the fan mode for direct cooling and purification or the backward airflow mode to purify without cooling. It also features Wi-Fi connectivity so you can control it remotely. The accompanying app shows the room temperature and moisture levels in the air, tracks air quality overtime, and lets you create a weekly schedule so that the machine automatically turns on and off at certain times. A remote control is also included. 

The TP07 offers 10 airflow speeds, including an auto mode that will assess the air quality and adjust as needed. We found the noise level to be indiscernible on level 1, and one tester described the noise at level 10 as "similar to the sound of a fan on low." At bedtime, you can enable the night mode, which dims the display lights and utilizes the quietest settings, making this a great pick for light sleepers, too. 

Product Details: 

  • Dimensions: 4.7 x 8 x 41 inches
  • Weight: 11 pounds
  • Room Size: 800 square feet 
  • CADR: Not listed
  • Certifications: Energy Star, Asthma & Allergy Friendly

RELATED: The 9 Best Fans to Beat the Heat, According to Our Testing

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Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Levoit Core 400S Air Purifier because it is extremely effective at filtering both PM, such as smoke, as well as VOCs, specifically those emitted from household products. It's also Wi-Fi enabled, so you can connect it to your phone or smart home device—a particularly advanced feature given the moderate price of this machine. 

Our Testing Process

We rounded up 38 of the best-rated air purifiers and put them through a series of tests in our Lab. To start, our testers timed how long it took them to assemble the air purifier from the moment they opened the box, taking note of how clear the instructions were to follow. 

Next, we evaluated the design of each air purifier, based on the build quality, aesthetics, design features, and footprint. Our testers then used a decibel meter to record the noise levels of each air purifier on its highest and lowest setting and took note of how noisy it sounded to them, too. 

For air purifiers with additional features, such as air quality indicators or Wi-Fi compatibility, we tested these functions and recorded whether they were useful and simple to navigate on the first try. 

The real test of each air purifier was its effectiveness at purifying the air. We set up indoor greenhouses, or "air quality testing chambers," and recorded the baseline particulate matter (PM) and volatile organic compound (VOC) levels. We tested each air purifier's ability to filter particles in the air by emitting incense smoke and pet hair into the chamber and zipping it closed. Once the incense smoke was extinguished, we measured the PM in the chamber, waited another 10 minutes, and measured it again. We then repeated this test in the highest mode. 

To test the ability of the air purifier to filter VOCs, we placed a bowl containing 4 ounces of mothballs in the testing chamber, and allowed them to permeate the area for at least 15 minutes. Prior to running the air purifier, we measured the initial level of VOCs in the air. We then ran the air purifier on its lowest mode in the chamber for 10 minutes, recording the VOC level every five minutes. We repeated this testing process on the air purifier's highest mode of operation, too. 

Finally, testers received the price of the air purifier, and were asked to score its overall value based on both its price and performance in our testing. 

Best Air Purifiers
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How to Shop for Air Purifiers Like a Pro

Filter Types

Some filters are better suited than others at filtering out different types of pollutants (such as dust, smoke, pet dander, etc.), so be sure that whichever air purifier you choose uses a filter that will best fit your needs. All of the air purifiers on our list feature a combination of at least two different types of filters, in order to provide the best indoor air quality possible. Here's a quick guide to the most common types of filters used for air purifiers: 

HEPA Filters: HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air, and is the most common type of filter used in air purifiers. These are the most efficient at filtering particles in the air, such as mold, pollen, or dust, making them ideal for those with asthma or allergies, as well as pet owners: "An air purifier with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is recommended for pet owners, as they remove 99.97 percent of allergens and pollutants as small as 0.3 microns from the air," says Mendez. "A HEPA filter can capture your pet's dander and fur, but it is important to change the filter regularly, so as not to release the particles back into your home." In general, HEPA filters should be replaced rather than cleaned, usually around every six to 12 months, but always refer to the manufacturer's guidelines for a specific filter. 

Activated Carbon Filters: Activated carbon (or charcoal) filters are pieces of carbon treated to be very porous, which makes them ideal for filtering smoke or odors. They can absorb many contaminants in the air that HEPA filters cannot, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Oftentimes, activated carbon filters are used in conjunction with HEPA filters to trap both allergens and unwanted odors or contaminants. In general, you'll want to replace activated carbon filters every three to six months. 

Prefilters: Many air purifiers come with prefilters to trap large debris and dirt. Oftentimes these  filters are washable, making them more environmentally-friendly and cost effective than other types of filters. In order for them to remain effective, you have to clean them regularly and allow them to dry fully before reinserting them—even a small amount of water left in the filter can lead to mold growth and worsen your air quality. 

Room Size

It's important to consider the size of the space you want to purify. An air purifier that is too powerful for your space will use excess electricity, while a too-small air purifier won't clean the air effectively. "Don't be tempted to run an air purifier with internal doors open, to try to clean the air in a whole home," says McKeon. "If the air purifier is not designed for that large space, it will not be effective. It's better to use an appropriate air purifier for the room or two that you spend the most time in, for example the bedroom or main living space."

Most air purifiers will list the maximum square footage they are able to clean. You can calculate the square footage of your space by multiplying the room's length by its width. 

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Effectiveness

The effectiveness of an air purifier is measured in clean air delivery rates (CADR), which indicates the cubic feet per minute (CFM) of purified air that an air purifier can produce on its maximum setting. CADR measures an air purifier's effectiveness for three different pollutants—pollen, dust, and smoke (although not all manufacturers list it by category). "If the CADR rating is too low for your room size, it will be ineffective," says Mendez. "The higher the CADR, the more particles the air cleaner can filter and the larger the area it can serve." According to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, the CADR of your air purifier should be equal to at least two-thirds of your room size. 

Noise

Even the most effective air purifier is not worth living with if the noise level is unbearable, especially considering they're meant to run all day long. We used a decibel meter to record the decibel levels at the lowest and highest settings. Most devices have a decibel level somewhere between 20 and 60. 

Extra Features

Most air purifiers come with extra features designed to improve the user experience, although these don't make a difference in their ability to purify air. Here are a few bonus features to look out for:

  • Wi-Fi Compatibility: There are plenty of air purifiers out there that can be connected to Wi-Fi and controlled via an app on your phone or smart home devices, such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. 
  • Remote Control: This simple accessory allows you to control your air purifier without getting up, which is particularly helpful if your air purifier is going in the bedroom. 
  • Filter Change Indicator: Some devices feature a light that will turn on when it is time to replace the filter. 
  • Air Quality Indicators: An air quality indicator can alert you to changes in your home's air quality and show you how close your space is to being purified. 
  • Multi-Function Air Purifiers: Some air purifiers double as humidifiers, fans, or even heaters, helping to replace multiple devices in a single appliance. 

Certifications

Air purifiers that are Energy Star certified must meet energy-efficient specifications set by the Environmental Protection Agency, which help to save you money in the long term. 

Additionally, the Asthma & Allergy Friendly Certification Program, which is jointly run by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and Allergy Standards Limited (ASL), independently tests air purifiers to ensure that they meet certain standards for reducing allergens in the air. 

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More Air Purifiers to Consider

Dyson Purifier Humidify+Cool Formaldehyde: Although this unit was the most expensive out of all the air purifiers we tested, it does double as a humidifier and a fan, so you can streamline the number of appliances in your space. Plus, it was very effective at clearing the air of contaminants during our testing. 

Winix 9800 Air Purifier with Wi-Fi & PlasmaWave Technology: For large spaces, this air purifier can clean up to 2,420 square feet, and was very effective at purifying the air in our testing. However, it didn't suck up the pet hair very well, so pet owners should keep this in mind.

Levoit Core Mini Air Purifier: For small spaces such as a bedroom or home office, the Levoit Core Mini offers effective air purification for up to 178 square feet of space. We love that it has a tiny footprint and can be neatly tucked away on a nightstand or desk. Plus, it's extremely quiet on the lowest setting so you can sleep undisturbed. 

Questions You Might Ask

What do air purifiers do?  

Most air purifiers—including the types we tested—work the following way: A fan sucks in air, which then moves through a filter where particles are captured (most air purifiers feature an additional filter for absorbing odors and gasses). The newly cleaned air is then pumped back into the room. 

"Air purifiers are designed to remove small particulate matter (a type of air pollution) from the air

we breathe," says McKeon. "These small particles can vary in size, and can irritate the lungs or trigger allergic reactions when inhaled. Primary sources of particulate air pollution include cooking, automobile emissions, dust, fires or burning of coal and other materials. Some larger particles are filtered through your nose hairs while smaller ones are not." 

Best Air Purifiers
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Where is the best place to put an air purifier?

This depends on your needs. If you have an area in your home with a strong odor, place the air purifier as close to the contaminant as possible. If your air purifier is going in the bedroom, place it on a nightstand or table close to your head, so the clean air has a shorter distance to travel before it reaches you. Avoid placing an air purifier in a tight space or against the wall, as this can block air intake. You should clear your air purifier's path from obstacles such as furniture, because they can prohibit the air flow. 

How long should you run an air purifier?

To keep your air free of allergens and other contaminants, it is recommended that you run your air purifier for at least 12 hours a day, but preferably all 24 hours a day. Air can become contaminated within a few hours of turning off an air purifier. 

How do you clean an air purifier? 

If your air filter has a prefilter, you should clean it monthly by rinsing it off or wiping it down (refer to the manufacturer's instructions). If the prefilter is not washable, you can gently vacuum the debris off. Replace disposable air filters as often as the manufacturer recommends. 

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Melanie Fincher, associate commerce editor for Real Simple with nearly three years of experience writing product reviews and lifestyle content. Melanie is a cat owner and suffers from seasonal allergies, so she's always on the lookout for ways to improve her indoor air quality. To compile this list, we tested 38 air purifiers in our Lab and evaluated them based on their setup, design, noise level, features, effectiveness, and overall value. Melanie also received expert tips on buying and using air purifiers from Kenneth Mendez, CEO and president of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and Dr. John McKeon, CEO of Allergy Standards. 

What Is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn't an option. If that's the case, we test the product just like we test anything we buy, but we also disclose that we received it for free to be as transparent with you as possible. 

Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.